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Primary school places announced

Many parents across the country have had notification this week for primary school entry places for their children.

Appealing a decision made can be tricky. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need assistance with this issue.

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There are four grounds on which appeals can be successful:
The school's admission arrangements do not comply with the law and if they did your child would have been offered a place
A mistake has been made with your child's application and if it had been handled properly your child would have been offered a place
Admitting further children would not breach the infant class limit of 30 pupils per teacher
The refusal of a place was unreasonable, taking the admissions arrangements into account
Parental alienation

This is very much a live topic and, as a matrimonial lawyer for many years, is something that I unfortunately come across the whole time.  The manipulator, for want of a better word, in effect emotionally abuses the child for his or her own gain without thought at all for that child's wellbeing.  At the end of the day, the parties chose together to have a child (usually) and their partner was chosen.  Surely, therefore, they should allow that child to know and have a good and meaningful relationship with both parents?  All too often I feel it is driven by "revenge" tactics or the child being the pawn in the last point of control one parent has over another.  It is about time courts were more robust in dealing with this issue

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Mothers and fathers who use Doctor Foster-style attempts to 'alienate' their children from the other parent could be stripped of contact with their offspring in 'groundbreaking' new trial
Presumption of Death

This is an interesting case which highlights the difficulties when a party disappears without trace.  The applicant for the declaration of presumption of death had the right outcome in the end for her but if someone chooses to disappear under the radar, it  goes to show how very difficult it is.

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A move in the right direction?

As a divorce lawyer with many cases where the wife (usually but not always) of a high-earner considers that there is no way she should not continue to receive high maintenance on top of a very generous capital settlement, I am glad to see that the courts are, once again - as it has happened before, beginning to consider that a high-earner should not be a meal ticket for life.  In this case, there was more than sufficient in capital settlement to see the wife out for life and the correct and robust legal representation obtained, for the husband, what can only, surely, be seen as a fair outcome

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Ex-wife of millionaire travel boss loses divorce deal which gave her £175k a year for life
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan split up - A better way to approach a separation

It was refreshing to read the way Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan have announced their separation to the media. For a couple in the spotlight they wrote a joint message, with no fault or blame attached to either of them for their marriage coming to an end.

Whilst obviously most people aren’t in this position it reminded me of two key points for anyone separating:

1. Watch what you put on social media as the chances are your former partner will see/hear about it. The work of a moment in posting a comment could be used against you later if there are court proceedings, not just the negatives but also if you show how fabulously wealthy you are with your luxury holiday/car/lifestyle; and

2. There are alternatives to the nasty celebrity court battles usually reported in the media. Everyone is different and so should be the way they approach resolving matters on separation.

I advise some clients who want to have all or part of their discussions about matters such as separation of finances directly with their partner or alternatively through mediation. Others prefer for me to have that discussion on their behalf.

Even in court proceedings I represent some clients completely whilst others represent themselves with my advice in the background.

There are lots of options, which is where getting advice from an experienced solicitor can really make a difference to help the person make informed decisions that work best for them and their families.

If you have any questions or would appreciate advice on a separation, do contact me on 01865 781115 or gemma.nicholls-webber@freeths.co.uk.

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Channing Tatum and wife Jenna Dewan have announced they're splitting up.
The couple say that "no secrets or salacious events" caused the split - they've instead "lovingly chosen to separate" after nearly nine years of marriage.
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan split up - A better way to approach a separation

It was refreshing to read the way Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan have announced their separation to the media. For a couple in the spotlight they wrote a joint message, with no fault or blame attached to either of them for their marriage coming to an end.

Whilst obviously most people aren’t in this position it reminded me of two key points for anyone separating:

1. Watch what you put on social media as the chances are your former partner will see/hear about it. The work of a moment in posting a comment could be used against you later if there are court proceedings, not just the negatives but also if you show how fabulously wealthy you are with your luxury holiday/car/lifestyle; and

2. There are alternatives to the nasty celebrity court battles usually reported in the media. Everyone is different and so should be the way they approach resolving matters on separation.

I advise some clients who want to have all or part of their discussions about matters such as separation of finances directly with their partner or alternatively through mediation. Others prefer for me to have that discussion on their behalf.

Even in court proceedings I represent some clients completely whilst others represent themselves with my advice in the background.

There are lots of options, which is where getting advice from an experienced solicitor can really make a difference to help the person make informed decisions that work best for them and their families.

If you have any questions or would appreciate advice on a separation, do contact me on 01865 781115 or gemma.nicholls-webber@freeths.co.uk.

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Channing Tatum and wife Jenna Dewan have announced they're splitting up.
The couple say that "no secrets or salacious events" caused the split - they've instead "lovingly chosen to separate" after nearly nine years of marriage.
Impact of parental disputes on children

We all know that fighting and arguments in front of children are not ideal.  I have seen research suggesting children seeing how adults deal with disputes can provide valuable tools for children in then dealing with conflict themselves.  I have also read a great deal of research about the impact of divorce on children as a "trauma" factor on their later emotional and physical health and development.

However, this research suggests that the impact of divorce may in fact be as much from the period before the divorce, where the situation at home may have been at its worst.

Often clients come to me after a period of difficulty, but for some this can be a period of many months or years.  This is sometimes seen to be staying together for the sake of the children.  If this research is right, doing that can be as traumatic depending on the circumstances.

The articles has some helpful tips and information. If this raises any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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In most cases, arguments will have little or no negative effects for children.

But when parents shout and are angry with each other, when they consistently withdraw or give each other the "silent treatment", problems can sometimes arise.

UK and international research conducted over several decades through observations in the home, long-term follow up work and experimental studies, suggests that from as young as six months, children exposed to conflict may have increased heart rates and stress hormone responses.

Infants, children and adolescents can show signs of disrupted early brain development, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, conduct disorder and other serious problems as a result of living with severe or chronic inter-parental conflict.
Millionaire jailed for contempt of court over divorce deal

A wealthy property developer has been jailed for 14 months for contempt of court in relation to his divorce settlement.

John Hart, 83, was ordered to hand over £3.5m of his £9.4m wealth to his ex-wife, former flight attendant Karen Hart, as well as his shares in company Drakestown Properties Limited – two estates of industrial units in the West Midlands. Mr Hart did not cooperate with that court order.

Wildblood jailed Hart for 14 months, telling him: “Mr Hart, so serious are these acts of contempt that only a sentence of imprisonment is justified.

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After delaying the transfer of the company, Hart and his staff “stripped out” all the management records of the company, leaving behind only two bank statements and a collection of licences and leases, the judge said.

Hart was ordered on two occasions, in February and July 2016, to provide information to his ex-wife, but failed to do so.
Parents of sperm donor win right to time with their biological grandson

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a four year old boy should be able to spend time with the parents of the donor whose sperm was used in his conception. 

The boy is the son of a lesbian couple, one of whom was an acquaintance of the donor. Initially, the donor spent regular time with his biological son, but contact between them started to become a problem after the couple's relationship broke down, and the man sought a court order to ensure it continued. 

The court ruled that it was in the boy's best interests to have a relationship not only with the sperm donor but also with his wider family, to help the child with 'understanding the big picture of his birth story'. The judge said that regular contact was vital to the boy's 'sense of identity'. 

Men who donate sperm through a licensed fertility clinic do not have rights or responsibilities towards children born as a result, and that is unlikely to change. However, this very important case demonstrates the possible implications of entering into more informal arrangements for sperm donation, and prospective parents should take legal advice on the consequences if this is something that they are considering.   

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Parents of a man who donated his sperm win the right to see their four-year-old grandson in a landmark case
Secondary school places confirmed

Families across the country have today received confirmation of secondary school places for their children.

The press have reported that many of these parents will be disappointed in not receiving their first place, nor a place at their top three schools. The pressure on state secondary schools has been increased due to increased birth rates in recent years.

An appeal process is available. More information about this can be found at

www.freethsoxford.co.uk/school_appeals

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Their research indicates that one in five children will fail to secure a place at their first choice school, up from around one in six last year.

25,000 children will find out that they not got place at any of the secondary schools which their parents listed in their application, their analysis also shows. 
The Surrogacy Pathway

The Department for Health and Social Care has issued new guidance intended to help those considering becoming parents via surrogacy, referred to as the Surrogacy Pathway.  

The guidance includes a suggestion that the intended parents should enter into a comprehensive written agreement with the surrogate beforehand about the key terms of their arrangement. However, it is vital to be aware that these agreements are not legally binding. Under the law as it stands, the surrogate remains the legal parent of the child until the intended parents obtain a court order transferring legal parenthood to them, which they cannot do until after the child has been born.

The law around surrogacy is complex and the risks to hopeful parents are considerable. If this is something that you, or anyone you know, needs advice on, then please do get in touch.  

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Having a child through surrogacy
The decline of marriage

The latest statistics suggests the number of couples deciding to marry continues to decrease.

The figures from 2015 reflect a continuing trend in declining marriage numbers for all couples except for those over the age of 55. These statistics cause family lawyers concern- often couples don’t realise the legal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. These rights do not exist for cohabitees, and there is no such thing as a “common law spouse”. Not being married to your partner restricts the claims that can be made on separation (and death in some cases) against property, assets, income and pensions.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this article please feel free to contact me.

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There were 239,020 marriages between opposite-sex couples in 2015, a decrease of 3.4% from 2014 when there 247,372 marriages, and 0.8% lower than in 2013.
Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples in 2015 were the lowest on record, with 21.7 marriages per thousand unmarried men and 19.8 marriages per thousand unmarried women.
Compared with 2005, marriage rates for opposite-sex couples marrying in 2015 were lower at all ages, except for men aged 65 and over and women aged 55 and over where marriage rates increased.
How divorce costs women £3,800 a year for life

Its a very important issue to highlight when you are getting divorced ....what is the pension worth ? Pensions are assets which can carry significant capital value and can be vital as income generators at a point when you want to retire .The Court has flexibility to deal with pensions in several ways in a divorce settlement so advice from your solicitor about this is essential .At Freeths we deal with such cases on a daily basis so if your relationship is ending contact us before you make any pension changes which might affect you in the future

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Ignoring the pension in a divorce could have devastating consequences for your income every single year after you retire .Divorcees retiring this year typically expect to be £3,800 worse off annually than people retiring in 2018 who are married, research has discovered. The average expected annual income for divorcees retiring in 2018 is £17,600 compared with £21,400 for those who are married.
This needs highlighting to women in Muslim marriages

There has been a lot of publicity about this in relation to women who marry under Sharia law and then find that they are not necessarily married in the eyes of the UK courts if the marriage breaks down.  This means that their entitlement to financial relief on breakdown of marriage is almost non-existent so a civil marriage is the best way to secure their position.

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Sharia marriages should be registered under UK law, says independent review

‘A greater number of women will have the full protection afforded to them in family law and they will face less discriminatory practices’
Bitcoin and divorce

How to find it and then how to value it? We are now coming across cases where this currency is part of the matrimonial assets. There are also stories of people trying to hide their wealth by buying this currency which can significantly fluctuate in value. If you are concerned about this issue and would like some initial advice about your particular circumstances please call the team and we will help - 0845 128 6960.

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Divorcing couples may clash over Bitcoin
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